When adding any type of security to your site, it pays to do a little research and make sure you have thought about what your goals are and how best to accomplish them. The last thing anyone wants is to add security equipment, only to realize later that it lacks features you need, or is not reliable.
Any type of security to be used at a carwash needs to be of a higher quality than what is usually found at a warehouse club or on eBay. It doesn't matter whether the security is in the form of locks, alarms or security cameras; consumer-grade equipment is not going to provide the level of security or the durability of industrial-grade equipment.
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For example, if you are adding locks of any kind, they need to have over-sized, hardened shackles that will be a hindrance to cutting or sawing. They also need to be a commercial design that will be more resistant to picking than a residential or normal duty lock commonly found at big box stores.
The same can be said for alarm systems. An inexpensive residential system may rely only on a phone line for alarm notification with no backup method for transmitting an alarm. Thieves know that these types of alarms are easily defeated by cutting your phone line outside the building.
Security camera systems are another area where consumer-grade cameras and recorders can be a total waste of money. For example, buying a system made overseas virtually guarantees that it is going to be of residential quality or less. Foreign brands also make repairs and warranties useless.
The fact is, you will need the best value for your money when considering any type of security equipment. That doesn't mean that you have to buy the most expensive equipment available, it simply means that it pays to research the specs and features you want, and to make sure that the brand is proven in your industry. Also, make sure that any service provider or installer is licensed and has a reputation for standing behind their service or installation without a struggle.
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So, to make sure that you make the right decisions when it comes to adding security to your site, here is a list of the top 10 mistakes owners and operators commonly make when choosing security equipment or providers:
- Buying locks at your nearest hardware store, then finding out later that there are only 5-10 different keysets (or less) for that brand of lock. This is very common, and it can be a challenge to find a quality lock that has unique keys. Thieves know this, and have been known to buy an assortment of locks that gives them access to businesses all over town.
- Buying an alarm system that sounds a siren and/or light, but does not contact anyone when triggered. These days people are accustomed to alarms going off periodically and even the closest neighbors will usually ignore them. Make sure your alarm system is professionally monitored, or at the very least, will call your cell phone, your manager and possibly others as well.
- Buying a residential-grade wireless alarm system or wireless security camera system. Thieves can buy a jammer that will defeat most wireless systems easily, even wireless video cameras. These inexpensive systems are no larger than a pack of cigarettes and can effectively render many wireless alarm and video systems useless in seconds with a broad spectrum of Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI). These devices block encrypted signals as well.
- Only installing an alarm system or video system – not both. These days many police departments will not respond to any type of alarm except a panic alarm unless there is video verification of an event. If only installing a video system, there is usually not any immediate notification of a break-in or vandalism.
- Buying a “pre-packaged” alarm or video system that is not specifically designed for your facility. There is no “one size fits all” system. Each location is unique, and different environments could require highly specialized sensors or cameras for durability and/or functionality. Going down to your nearest supercenter and purchasing a 4 sensor alarm system or a 4 camera video system for a carwash is not going to get you what you need or want.
- When installing a security camera system, you expect a camera to see everything. This is not feasible on anything but the cameras you see on CSI and cinema movies. A wide angle camera gives you just that: A wide angle view of a large area. You cannot get facial recognition off of this or license plates. Cameras are built for very specific reasons so you need to know what you expect from your cameras, and what their specific purpose is, before you get a quote on a system.
- Buying an off-the-shelf all-purpose security camera to be mounted in your tunnel or bay. Security cameras that are not completely sealed to keep water and moisture out, will not last long in wet areas. Buy a camera that has been designed to work in wet areas or carwashes specifically.
- Putting in an alarm system or security camera system that does not come with a long warranty period and ongoing technical support. Someone will need to train your key employees how to operate the system. What do you do when things go wrong? Who provides repair services? How do you pull footage of an event to give the police? These are just some of the questions you will need answers to before choosing a manufacturer or service provider.
- Not monitoring entry doors or cash points. Alarming doors and watching them with cameras will alert you to break-ins and provide video evidence of what happened at your facility. Also, alarming your change machines, Autocashiers and other unattended machines can alert authorities that you are being burglarized. Many times these types of alarms catch thieves in the act. Security cameras can then convict them with the proof that is needed that they were in the process of breaking in or vandalizing your expensive equipment.
- And, the number one mistake is: Waiting until it’s too late and you’ve already been burglarized. On average it takes three break-ins before most people are convinced it’s worth the money and time to get a system. “It won’t happen to me.” “We have a business in a low crime area.” “It’s already happened to me so I’m sure it won’t happen again.” We’ve heard it all. A burglary occurs every 15 seconds, with an average loss of $1,675. That bears repeating. Every 15 seconds.
Allen Spears has been in the carwash business for more than 25 years. He currently owns four washes in Texas, is chief engineer at CarWashCameras.com (a division of Rugged CCTV) for the past 15 years, and has designed systems for over 2,200 carwashes during his career. Contact Allen at [email protected] or 1-866-301-CCTV.